Funding competition ATI Programme strategic batch: expression of interest February 2021

The ATI Programme funds industrial research and investment aid for research infrastructures to make the UK civil aerospace sector more competitive.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


The ATI Programme represents a £3.9 billion joint government and industry investment to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace.

This programme is co-ordinated and managed by:

  • the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
  • Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation
  • the Aerospace Technology Institute

We work in collaboration to deliver a portfolio of projects to meet the objectives of the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, ‘Accelerating Ambition’.

This is phase 1 of a strategic batch competition within the ATI Programme. There are 2 phases to each strategic batch competition. If you are successful at phase 2 you will proceed to final approvals and contracting. The whole process takes at least 6 months.

  1. Expression of interest (EoI) – this competition: opens monthly and is reviewed by the Aerospace Technology Institute only. There is no funding in this phase.
  2. Full stage application (FSA): invite only, if successful in the expression of interest phase. Independent assessment by Innovate UK, value for money (VfM) and policy review by BEIS, and strategic review by the Aerospace Technology Institute.

BEIS has the final funding decision. If you are successful at phase 2, Innovate UK will perform financial viability and eligibility checks. You will be contracted by Innovate UK.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. The competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

The grant funding you can apply for is limited. See ‘Eligibility’ for details.

Who can apply

Lead organisation

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size for research projects
  • be a UK registered business of any size, a research and technology organisation (RTO) or academic institution for capital infrastructure projects
  • carry out your aerospace research or capital infrastructure project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Your project’s duration must be appropriate and in proportion to the planned objectives and prioritisation within the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, ‘Accelerating Ambition’.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead organisation your organisation must:

Your business does not have to be registered with Companies House when you apply, but it must be registered before you can receive funding.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will not count towards the total eligible project costs but must be included in your answer to question 7.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition and must be selected through a participant’s normal procurement process. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK. If an overseas subcontractor is selected, a case must be made as to why no UK-based subcontractor can be used including a detailed rationale, evidence of UK companies that have been approached and reasons why they were unable to do so.

We expect subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. A cheaper cost is not deemed as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Previous applications

You can use a previously unsuccessful application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:

Subsidy Control (and State aid where applicable)

This competition provides funding in line with the UK's obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. We will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.

European Commission State aid

You commit to applying under European Commission State aid rules if you are an applicant who is:

  • located in Northern Ireland
  • conducting activities that affect the trade of goods (including wholesale electricity) between Northern Ireland and the EU

For further information see our general guidance on state aid and BEIS guidance on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

If this describes your organisation, according to the amendment on 2 July 2020 to the General Block Exemption regulation (GBER), we will provide funding to you if you can prove your organisation was not an Undertaking in Difficulty (UiD) as defined by GBER. This only applies if you can prove your organisation was not a UiD on the date of 31 December 2019 but became a UID between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2021. We will ask you to provide evidence of this.

Further Information

If you are unsure about the regulations and your obligations, please take legal advice.

You must ensure at all times that the funding awarded to you is compliant with any legislation applicable in the United Kingdom on or after 1 January 2021. This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom and/or any other country or countries.

If there are any changes within the above requirements that would necessitate changing the terms of this competition, we will inform you as soon as possible.


If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

Industrial research projects

Individual partners that are conducting commercial or economic activities (which may include research organisations) as part of the project can claim grant funding up to:

  • 70% if you are a small or micro organisation
  • 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • 50% if you are a large organisation

The total grant funding limit for any individual organisation is £18 million.

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activities in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them. They can each claim 100% of their total eligible costs.

Capital infrastructure projects

Your project must focus on the construction or upgrade of research infrastructures that perform economic activities.

Each infrastructure project can receive total grant funding of up to £18 million. Your total project grant funding must not exceed 50% of your total eligible project costs.

Your total eligible project costs must be the investment costs in intangible and tangible assets.

If the research infrastructure pursues both economic and non-economic activities, you must:

  • account for the financing, costs and revenues of each type of activity separately
  • use consistently applied and objectively justifiable cost accounting principles

Access to the research infrastructure for its operation or use must be open to several users without discrimination and be granted on a transparent basis. Users must be charged the market price.

If an organisation has financed at least 10% of the investment costs of the project infrastructure, it can be granted preferential access under more favourable conditions.

The access must be in proportion to the organisation’s contribution to the investment costs and access conditions must be made publicly available.

In a collaborative capital infrastructure project, the research organisations undertaking non-economic activities can each claim 100% of their share of the total eligible project costs.

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the Company accounts guidance.

Your proposal

This is an expression of interest (EoI) competition. You must have a successful application in this competition before you can be invited to apply to the full stage competition.

Your project must have a potential application within the civil aerospace sector. This can include dual use technologies.

Your proposal must align with the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, ‘Accelerating Ambition’, which is split into these areas:

  • vehicles: strengthening the UK’s whole-aircraft design and system integration capability, and positioning it for future generations of civil aircraft
  • advanced systems: developing UK advanced systems technologies to capture high-value opportunities in current and future aircraft
  • aerostructures: ensuring the UK is a global leader in the development of large complex structures, particularly wings
  • propulsion and power: advancing a new generation of more efficient propulsion technologies, particularly large turbofans
  • cross-cutting enablers: developing high value design capabilities, advanced materials, manufacturing and assembly, advanced through-life engineering technologies
The ATI Programme partners will monitor changes between your phase 1 and phase 2 submissions. We will not accept unjustified major changes in the consortium or costs.

Research categories

We will fund industrial research projects as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

  • focus solely on defence, space or other industrial sectors, but we will recognise dual use technologies providing the primary application is in civil aerospace
  • focus on fundamental research, early stage technologies or experimental development
  • involve subsidies dependent on export performance – for example giving a subsidy to a widget manufacturer linked to exporting a certain tonnage of widgets to another country
  • involve subsidies contingent on the use of domestic content – for example stating that the beneficiary must use 50% UK manufactured widgets in their product
1 February 2021
Competition opens
4 February 2021
Online briefing: watch here
17 February 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
8 March 2021 2:16pm
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.

If you are invited to apply for phase 2 and are successful, Innovate UK is unable to award grant funding to organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty.

What we ask you

The application is split into 2 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.

1. Project details

This section provides background for the assessors and is not scored.

Application team

Decide which organisations will work with you on the project. Invite people from those organisations to help complete the application.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration. Is the application a resubmission?

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We collect and report on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data to address under-representation in business innovation and ensure equality, diversity and inclusion across all our activities.

You must complete this EDI survey and then select yes in the application question. The survey will ask you questions on your gender, age, ethnicity and disability status. You will always have the option to ‘prefer not to say’ if you do not feel comfortable sharing this information.

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application. List any organisations you have named as collaborators.

Your answer can be up to 100 words long.


Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope your application will not be scored and you will not be invited to apply for phase 2.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

If your project is in scope, the Aerospace Technology Institute will score your answers. You will receive feedback by email from the Aerospace Technology Institute. No feedback will be available through the Innovation Funding Service.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any links to websites in your answers.

Question 1. Business opportunity

What is the business opportunity that your project addresses and what is the size of the potential market?

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.


  • the business opportunity identified and how you plan to take advantage of it
  • how it is done today and the limits of current practice
  • the customer needs that have been identified and how the project will meet them
  • the challenges you expect to face and how you will overcome them
  • the target market, and how the outputs from this project are required to progress or achieve strategic targets
  • the growth opportunity your project will create

You can submit charts in a one page A4 PDF appendix to support your answer. It must be no larger than 10MB in size and legible at 100% zoom.

Question 2. Exploitation and dissemination

How will you exploit and disseminate your project results? What economic, social and environmental benefits do you expect your project to deliver, and when?

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.


  • expected project outputs, including products, services, processes and capabilities
  • your initial exploitation plan: the route to market, intellectual property, changes to business models or processes, research and development (R&D), and manufacturing services
  • spill-over or dissemination of ideas, demonstrating how your activities will contribute to the wider aerospace industry and other sectors
  • the UK benefits expected to be delivered as a result of this project, such as R&D and capital expenditure, supply chain, jobs, training and skills, and environmental benefits

Question 3. Technical approach and management

What technical approach will you use and how will you manage your project?

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.


  • the technical approach, including the main objectives of the work
  • how and why the approach is appropriate
  • how you will make sure the innovative steps in the project are achievable
  • how you will measure your success
  • the areas of work and your objectives

You must submit a work breakdown structure (including the cost of each work package) in a one page A4 PDF appendix to support your answer. It must be no larger than 10MB in size and legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4. Innovation

What is innovative about your project?

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.


  • how it will push boundaries beyond current leading-edge science and technology
  • how it will apply existing technologies in new areas
  • what competitors are doing, and how they are trying to achieve the same outputs
  • how and why any IP from the project will be free from restriction and readily exploited
  • how the research is novel in an industrial and/or academic context

You must submit a table in a one page A4 PDF appendix to support your answer. It must be no larger than 10MB in size and legible at 100% zoom. In your table list the technology, why it is innovative, and the change in technology or manufacturing readiness at the start and end of the project.

Question 5. Skills, experience and facilities

Does your proposed project team have the right skills, experience and facilities to deliver this project?

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Demonstrate that the likely project team:

  • has the right mix of skills and experience to complete the project
  • has a track record in managing research and development projects
  • has clear objectives and roles or responsibilities
  • includes project partners with clear objectives and roles or responsibilities

If you are part of a consortium, describe the benefits of the collaboration. What advantages does being part of a consortium offer the project?

If you are subcontracting any work, explain why you need to. If you have chosen a subcontractor, explain your choice.

If you have not yet chosen a subcontractor:

  • include details of the companies you are considering using
  • explain your shortlisting process

Question 6. Adding value

How does financial support from the ATI Programme add value to the UK? What will happen to the project in the absence of grant funding?

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Answer both of the following:

  1. Why do you need this amount of grant funding? Explain what other sources of funding have been considered, including private investment, and why it is not available.
  2. What will happen to the project in the absence of grant funding? Describe and provide evidence for what will occur if the application for grant funding is not successful

Question 7. Finances

Provide us with estimates of partners’ eligible costs and the grant funding you are seeking. Include any subcontracted costs. If you have chosen a subcontractor, tell us their name and the country where they will carry out the subcontracted work.

Type ‘Table attached’ below and give your estimates in a table as an uploaded appendix. Give details of the total eligible costs and total grant funding requested for this project. The table can be in a one page A4 PDF or in a spreadsheet. It must be legible at 100% zoom.

Give your table the following headings:

  • partner’s name
  • country where work is being carried out
  • partner’s eligible costs (£)
  • partner’s subcontracted costs (£)
  • subcontractor (if identified)
  • country where subcontract is being carried out
  • partner’s ineligible costs (£)
  • grant funding sought by partner (£)

The grant funding sought by a partner can be zero (for example non-UK business).

Your grant funding must meet the rules listed in ‘Eligibility’.

Question 8. Project partners location

Where are the organisations within your project team registered?

Please state the name of each organisation along with its full registered address. If you are working with an academic institution this doesn’t need to be included.

Background and further information

ATI Programme

BEIS is the government department accountable for the £150 million yearly programme budget. BEIS decides which projects will be funded with government resources. It also performs value for money (VfM) assessments on project proposals.

The Aerospace Technology Institute’s mission is to help the UK realise growth by creating a coherent and ambitious portfolio of research and technology (R&T) projects. It is responsible for developing the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy and encourages projects that fit with this strategy and maximise the potential to the UK economy.

Innovate UK is the funding agency for the ATI Programme. It delivers the competitions processes including independent assessment of project proposals in phase 2 and provides funding recommendations to BEIS. Following funding award, Innovate UK manages the programme, from contracting projects, through project change requests to completion.

In securing grant funding from this programme, each industry participant receiving a grant will pay an industrial contribution to the Aerospace Technology Institute operating budget. This will be proportional to its grant. You can read the contributions detailed by the Aerospace Technology Institute.

Help finding a partner

If you want help to find a project partner, email

Help with your application

The Aerospace Technology Institute can help you develop your proposal before you apply. The service is entirely optional and it does not guarantee success at this stage. If you are not already in contact with the Aerospace Technology Institute, send your draft application to

Your project will be assigned a project lead from the Aerospace Technology Institute technology team.

They will:

  • monitor the progress of your application
  • provide development feedback, where appropriate
  • meet you as necessary
  • discuss the requirements of the application process
  • give feedback on parts of your proposal that need more development

At no point will the Aerospace Technology Institute project lead give a preliminary indication of project evaluation against the assessment criteria. At all times the responsibility for the application and its completion rests with the lead applicant and its partners.

The Aerospace Technology Institute can only provide development feedback on completed draft applications, and within a reasonable timeframe. The Aerospace Technology Institute will be able to provide development feedback up to 2 weeks before the competition closing date. After this date the Aerospace Technology Institute cannot guarantee any feedback will be provided.

This is a monthly expression of interest (EoI) competition. To allow enough time to prepare your application, you may wish to submit into a future EoI instead.

Help with the Innovation Funding Service

If you need more information, email us at or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357.

Our phone lines are open from 9am to 11:30am and 2pm to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Innovate UK is committed to making support for applicants accessible to everyone.

We can provide help for applicants who face barriers when making an application. This might be as a result of a disability, neurodiversity or anything else that makes it difficult to use our services. We can also give help and make other reasonable adjustments for you if your application is successful.

If you think you need more support, it is important that you contact our Customer Support Service as early as possible during your application process. You should aim to contact us no later than 10 working days before the competition closing date.

Need help with this service? Contact us